Interview with Naomi Njoroge, Managing Director of Aidems Business Solution about this year’s African Banking &Finance Conference (ABFC) in Nairobi.
What are the key topics and issues that will be addressed at this year’s Africa Banking & Finance Conference?
This year’s edition is held under a timely theme “Breaking the Finance Barriers” in Africa’s finance sector and the topics at ABFC 2015 will be aligned to this theme. As you are aware Africa’s economies are on a growth trajectory garnering higher % growth rates than other economies around the globe. Thebanking & finance sector must now more than ever position itself to play a key role in supporting the unprecedented economic growth the continent is witnessing.
Trade will be vital in this growth and therefore one of the key topics will be on Trade & Export Finance specifically on Africa’s economic growth and its implications for intra and inter regional trade. Critical issues in Trade Finance deals: fraud, legal, regulatory and institutional operational risks are some of the topics that will be discussed. Industry experts will also address the important topic of funding solutions for the medium and long-term export credits and accessing long term liquidity in alternative currency financing.
Another very important topic will be on SME & Micro Finance opportunity. Several economic sectors in the continent are dominated by medium and or small businesses. Though notable strides have been made to ease access to finance for these businesses, challenges still exits. Experts will address the ways to increase appetite for micro finance investment in this region through targeted approach as well as look at new approaches to Microfinance and SME, including the next generation of investors and operational paradigms/practical challenges in various options.
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It will also be crucial to hear how finance and banking experts are leveraging the opportunities in technology. The age of digital banking requires a complete rethink of the way banks run their businesses. Predicting and preparing for the next technological frontier in the banking and finance world will require that institutions balance compliance and commerciality, while controlling cost. What are the IT priorities for 2015 and beyond?
-What are some of the highlights that attendees can expect this year? (Special speakers, seminars, etc.)
We have invited the Cabinet Secretary of Finance in Kenya to give the opening address. This year’s program at ABFC is set to feature sidelines sessions which will offer in-depth focused discussions on topical issues as part of ABFC initiative to generate take-home practical solutions that will see the industry reach its critical mass. As with past conferences, the program will cover important case developments, critical practice issues, and notable industry trends.
-How are other sectors of the economy brought into the conference and discussions of banking in the region?
Industry Leaders’ Perspectives on the Africa’s Banking Industry and its impact on growth and development is a popular session at ABFC. It is at this session we get to hear insights from other sectors on their expectations from the finance sector. These inputs are vital for banks as they develop and evolve to service businesses’ needs for winning business strategies for African market
-How has the conference changed and grown over the past five years?
Yes in many ways. The first edition was very wide in scope. Over the years, we continue to narrow the focus which has worked really well for the participants. This has also changed the quality of discussions and networking that stem from this event. We have also seen growth in the number of exhibitors showcasing at this event and this year we are expecting over 10 service providers